It’s a familiar complaint in Salmon Arm; all too often, commercial vehicles speed through town on the Trans-Canada Highway and run red lights.
However, how to solve the problem remains a controversial issue.
Infrastructure changes are planned to address the issue but some believe what’s really needed are restrictions on trucks.
The worst-case scenario was captured on video in December 2016, when a restaurant surveillance camera recorded a tractor-trailer running a red light on the Trans-Canada Highway in Salmon Arm and plowing into a bus.
The footage is a prime example of why people in Salmon Arm are so concerned about trucking safety on Highway 1.
Since that dramatic footage was captured, city council has approved safety upgrades including moving one of the traffic lights. The idea is to give vehicles more time to stop between lights.
However, some are not satisfied with the solution. A group called Plan 4 Prosperity believes moving the light will only create more space for truck traffic to speed up as it tries to get up a hill on the highway in town.
Instead, they’d like to see a bypass around Salmon Arm and in the short term, large trucks restricted to the right lane and limited to 40 km/hour through downtown Salmon Arm.
“It would slow down the trucks for one and it would prevent this jockeying that goes on,” Jim Kimmerly, Plan for Prosperity chairperson, said.
However, for truckers, time is money and limiting speed is unlikely to be popular.
The BC Trucking Association said safety is a top priority for its members but if some in the industry are flouting the speed limit already, lowering the limit further is unlikely to be effective. Instead, the association argued more enforcement might be a better solution.
The province said commercial vehicle safety enforcement is done on a weekly basis in Salmon Arm and extra enforcement was done earlier this year.
While no one wanted to go on camera, several local trucking companies that spoke to Global News agreed there is an issue with truckers driving unsafely through Salmon Arm but argue the problem is mostly with out-of-town companies.
There is also support within the local trucking industry for the idea of the bypass.
However, the province has no plans for a highway bypass and there are questions about where it would be located.
Instead, the planned intersection upgrades, including moving the light, are expected to start this year. The mayor believes it’s the right move despite the criticism it will increase speed.
“If ICBC says that it will be safer, then I have to trust that it will be,” Mayor Nancy Cooper said.
With Plan 4 Prosperity aiming to run a slate in the next municipal election, expect to hear more debate about how to fix Salmon Arm’s safety issues.
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